1223 Haddon Avenue
Camden, NJ 08103
I know you are scared of Camden. We all are. But I need you to buck up, lock the car doors, roll up the windows and go there. As soon as possible. I am actually mad at myself for never going to Donkey's Place before now.
Right at the corner of Crack Rock Drive and Gunshot Lane sits this beautiful little bar, untouched by time, that has been around since prohibition. Seriously. There is a bell on a rope in the back that you used to ring to get into the "Polish Club". Sold.
What's that below? Oh just one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. The seasoned onions just sit and cook, while the meat sizzles away, and the poppy seed kaiser rolls get toasty.
The grill is intently managed, and there were a half dozen sandwiches ready to go, although I was one of the only people in there. I was wondering why. Then about ten people showed up. Then more. All of this took place before noon.
If you are worried about what to order, don't be. They have cheesesteaks. And fries. That's all. I could look at this grill all day.
As it was before noon on a weekday, and the "craft brew" selection was non-existent, I went with something 'lite.'
I also ordered my first sandwich. As you can see, the sandwiches are all served on poppy seed kaiser rolls. You may think, "well that's not a real cheesesteak" – you will be wrong.
Everything on here is magnificent. The onions are perfectly seasoned, beautifully caramelized, and are among my favorites ever. The meat is not finely chopped, but is left in long, luscious strips (one might even call them ribbons), and is of superior quality. Think Geno's, without the racism and unappealing gristle. Oh and unlike Geno's, this is one of the best cheesesteaks in the land. The blend of the American cheese, fantastic onions, and consummate steak meat is just on another level.
There's a slice of gooey and delicious American lining either side of the bun.
I also got an order of the fries. On my next visit, I would just get an extra sandwich (I got two on this trip, so yes, that would be three). They were crinkle cut, and noting to write home about. A shot of hot pepper relish (one of my weaknesses) gussied up the ketchup, and didn't hurt on the sandwich either, but was by no means necessary. The acidic vinegar and burn of the peppers really wakes up the senses. They use the same spice blend on the fries and the onions. It is basically a seasoned salt mixture.
All in all, this place has everything I like in a restaurant. From the dingy interior, to the questionable neighborhood, to the amazing food. It's basically the Nick's Roast Beef of cheesesteaks. Easily in my top three cheesesteaks of all time - even in Donkey's own interpreted form.